Monday, October 16, 2017

Building a Story by Mary Deal


  

An example of how to begin a new story when your Muse has taken a vacation.

A friend of mine—I’ll call her Judy—had written a novel and was in the process of sending it out to literary agents seeking representation. She and I knew that first-time authors typically needed to have two or more completed and polished manuscripts in hand.
Publishers do not make large profits on an unknown writer’s first book but on subsequent publications instead. Money is spent on publicity for the first book to establish a reputation for an author and build readership. With these aspects already established, on subsequent books, larger profits are realized.
Too, publishers are more apt to believe that a writer is capable of turning out numbers of books if they did so of their own volition and not because a publisher waits with bated breath for another manuscript. Having more than one book shows true intent as a writer.
So, Judy needed to write another story, and fast. She had just completed the rigors of editing and deep polishing the first manuscript and felt burned out. I suggested she take a breather for a week or two; maybe even get away for a vacation. She is not one to shy away from responsibility, so she pleaded with me to help her find a way to conjure another plot because her muse had taken the vacation for her.
I never thought about how to start a new story. My stories just rolled out whenever I allowed myself to think. Then I remembered a few techniques I used in establishing characters in my first novel and passed those steps along to her.
The one presented here is the procedure that worked for her. She took more than a month conjuring characters and, not surprisingly, the story unfolded as she went along. By the end of three months, she had completed the first draft of her second novel.
Something happened along the way. Her muse evidently decided she liked the excitement of the new story and returned promptly from vacation. In following the steps given below, Judy came up with an idea for a sequel to her newly finished story and then decided to make it a serial.

* * * * *

Your hero or heroine should be the strongest character in your story. Let’s give your main characters the types of personalities that will fit their roles.
Imagine a person you’d like to have in one of your stories. From that mental image, build a character. She or he will probably be your protagonist. This may change, so beyond recording the character’s physical attributes, do not think further into the story.
If you have written a short story and identify a protagonist, you can use that character to help flesh out another one. However, the technique presented here works best when starting fresh with a character about whom you know nothing. Then you’re less likely to follow the plot line of the other story already written.
Have a sort of feel for a person and start simply by listing physical attributes: age, color of eyes, skin tone, hair color and any other details you feel you wish the person to have.
At this point, do not list anything like the fact that the lady changes hair color frequently, or has a nail-biting neurosis. This has little to do with establishing the basics of physical image. If something extra does come up in creating the character, then your Muse is beginning to feed you details of a story you have yet to consciously realize. How exciting is that? If this extra information may be too good to pass up, then you can add it, perhaps in a separate list for personality. Be simple in the primary description and make a separate list of added details as something you may include later.
Next, give the person just enough of a life so that you know what makes your character’s personality unique.

What does she or he do for a living?
How many other family members?
What are her or his best personality attributes, and worst ones?
What other relatives closely share this character’s life and how does your character interact with them?
What delicious secrets does your character hide?

Another example: Give your character habits like a facial tic or nail-biting. Try to conjure why she or he has it? Is it the result of some repressed emotion? Is it from some shock long ago? How does this unnerving habit affect people presently in the character’s life? What crisis from her past should she have to work through to eliminate the tic? Who else is involved in why she may have such a habit? If nothing like this comes to mind for your character, don’t worry. Something else is on the way!
I like the part about the secrets most. Most people hide things they wouldn’t want the world to know about themselves. Draw it out of your story people. Find some shocking information, juicy tidbits around which to build your plot, around which to motivate your characters.
See where this is going? By the time you’ve got the first character established, you will have introduced us to other people in his or her life.
Next, choose one of those secondary people and build another character sketch. You may already know which character will interact most with your protagonist. It doesn’t have to be a love-interest either. The next character can be a public figure the protagonist tries to emulate, or someone who has been stalking her, or a neighbor, or anyone among the characters who people your plot.
For the next character, you do not have to use any particular person included with the sketch of your main character. You can start fresh again and build a whole new person. Something in that creation will tell you how to bring this person together with your main character and the others.
Follow this procedure for each character whether or not they immediately interact with the main character. Have faith. Your Muse understand you need characters that will ultimately interact, so create them as they come to mind. Trust yourself!
Finally, your characters will tell you a story as you create them. Begin to write about how these people interact. By the time you get this far, you will know where your story is going. You will know your plot!
Trust the process. You will have conjured something important to say about these people, their lives and their impact on one another and the outcome.
Write without editing. Let your mind wander from the rational to the absurd. As you write, you’ll find yourself choosing which path you wish the story to follow.
Ultimately, you may not use most of the information you pack into your character sketches. However, because you have taken the time to build your characters, you will know how they react in all the circumstances presented in your plot. A morally upstanding person reacts one way to a certain occurrence; a frivolous person reacts a completely different way to the same situation. You will know these people because in building character sketches you unknowingly create their morals, ethics, and motivations, which will surely spice up your plot.


 Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

LATE OCTOBER by Patricia Crandall

Sunshine glints
June-like warmth
vastly more lovely
than wintering pines
shedding needles
on a carpet of moss.
The lake, once clear,
is murky. Aquatic life
accepts a respite
in the frosty seasons.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Future of Social Media That You Must Know








How marketing channels will change this year? The social media platforms are constantly evolving around the needs and preferences of the customers. These networks help people to connect with other people around everywhere who then build a personal connection with each other. The basic purpose of social media is to build a brand and increase its visibility. Some research studies show that social media has been an integral communication platform for the majority of the users and we have over 2 billion active social media users. Few research stats say that,

  • ·         81% of millennial check Twitter at least once per day.
  • ·         The female Instagram users are comparatively more than men. Its 38% vs. 26%.
  • ·         Instagram is considered to be the largest social network for the teenagers.

So what is in for social media this year? The ongoing social media practices for this and few upcoming years are:

The Era of Messaging Apps

That is pretty strange, but this year social messaging applications have taken over the place of social networks. In fact, social messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Instagram have more users than the big social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Most businesses have now started taking advantage of the presence of huge audiences based on social media platforms and are already taking benefits of messaging platforms like when you click on an ad it takes you the Page or the chat window of the respective brand. The brands have started to realize the value of social messaging apps and networks to have a good presence there by direct communication with the users.

The News Time

This year and so on more and more people especially the millennials are turning towards the social media as their main source of news instead of newspapers, radio or television. Get a grip on the social media to share your voice all over.

Facebook Live Is Alive

It is no more about the daily post or creating unique content; social media is now taking it to the higher level by showing up everything in real time with live videos, a better way to stay connected to the online users. Social videos have much more engagement than any other content format and have been responsible for much growth on Facebook-Live. Not only this, Facebook live videos are covering major events for the people who are not able to attend it.

What Twitter Has In The Future

We have heard the demise of Twitter lately, but the algorithms update suggest us to use Twitter to reach out to people openly, rather than only as a medium to just broadcast your message to everyone. Twitter is at its boom connecting millions of users with simple hashtags.

Paid Advertisements Are Booming

Though Google prefers organic reach the most over the next few years there are a large number of highly paid marketing campaigns is in the trend. The companies have already experienced the potential of paid marketing which is reaping good results. Most website design companies are paid advertisements via all social networks. It is predictable that in the next few years, there will be a much larger number of highly paid marketing campaigns. Companies have already practiced the potential of paid marketing and many are jumping the bandwagon. Reflecting the fact the social media platforms will reduce the organic visibility of the brands while letting them have exclusively paid rights to the social media.

Obligating Video Advertisement

With improvements in the internet quality, it is now the high time for GIFs and videos to gain popularity over the social media marketing. Visuals are always appealing than written content, and so brands are making videos to rule the internet world. Companies are also working with the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality to give their potential clients a better feel for what is in store for them.

Chatbots

Every single thing is over the chatbots now. As soon as you go to a Facebook page, chatbots are ever ready to assist the online users. This quick communication with the users over social media apps or networks has made the marketing struggle of the brands much easier as before.

What You Have For 2017?

Just posting content directly would be considered as rented and you will not be having control over the outcome whereas putting in fresh content in words, videos and posts are deemed to be owned and give you good control over the content to make a strong brand’s performance.



 About Loius Martin:
As a Marketing Manager, Loius approaches Digital Marketing not only as a profession but a creative thinking process. He knows well to connect all the points of a brand and make it appear well. With a passion for writing about content marketing, design and development he has been writing blogs since time. Get more of his articles @loiusmartin1

Monday, September 25, 2017

Unseen Background Details by Mary Deal




As a writer, you may find that TV characters can be emotionally flat time and again. What sets them apart, even what gets the viewer to like them, is that we can see them. We see their facial expressions and how they react to other people and occurrences. We see their actions, which express motivations and emotion. We see the background scenery and how they act and react in such a setting.
What we see on TV or in a film is exactly what many writers fail to include in their stories.
Details we see in a picture don't have to be explained because we see them. When writing our stories and books, we must skillfully describe the important silent background details for the reader.
A simplified example: If the reader doesn't know the character is caught out in a rainstorm, how will the reader know anything except that the character is walking down a street?
We must describe the setting. If it was raining, don’t stop there.

Was it a thunderstorm or simply sprinkling?
Did the character get caught without a raincoat and umbrella?
Was the sky dark, or was the sun shining through the rain?
Was the wind blowing?
Who else was nearby and how did they react to the rain?

We writers must include in our written works anything that might otherwise be seen when viewing the same scene on TV or in a film. Yet, we cannot over-do the details by stopping the story and describing the background.
Every detail necessary should be woven into the action as long as it enhances the scene. Which do you prefer?

The sky was dark. Lightning lit up the distant sky. Thunder rolled. The wind was fierce. It bent her umbrella backwards. She discarded it. Rain pelted down. She wore a raincoat but was now getting drenched.

Or this:

When lightning flashed and thunder rolled again and the deluge came, she grabbed the collar of her raincoat, drew it up around her neck, and began running. Her umbrella bent backwards as the wind tore it from her hands. Her hair hung in loose wet ringlets as water streamed off the ends and ran down inside her collar. How did she ever let herself get caught alone on a dark street with wind strong enough to blow her over the side of the bridge? And why had that dark sedan slowed its speed to keep pace directly behind her?


The rule is never to stop the story to describe the background or scene, but to include the surroundings among the action performed by each character and as it affects that character.





LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE


Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Last of the Blueberries

My poem, Last of the Blueberries, won second place in Writer's Carnival Poetry contest. Please read and post a comment if you will. Thank you.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Okay Is Not Good Enough by Jean Lauzier


This past spring, I attended a semi-local writer’s conference. One of the speakers said that it was okay to publish a book that had errors in it. That it didn’t matter, because you could always upload a revised version any time you want. He also said if you were to get a bad review due to the errors, that was okay too. You just need to grow a tough skin and ignore it. Then he stated that if the reader likes your story, they will buy your next book, even with all the errors. By the time I recovered my senses, he’d gone on to promote his “how to write and publish a book in thirty days or less” book.

I don’t know about you, but I dislike a bunch of typos and grammar mistakes when trying to read. Sure, I understand a book will never be totally error-free, but we should strive to get as close as possible. I’m an avid reader and have returned books riddled with formatting issues and errors. And I certainly won’t be buying anything else from them.
Authors such as this are the reason self-publishing still leaves a bad taste in many reader’s mouths. And, I understand the legacy publishers aren’t perfect, but they do try.
As an editor for a medium-sized publisher, I see many submissions that really aren’t ready. Even though we require a professional edit before submitting, it’s amazing how many manuscripts still need editing when we get them.

One thing I often see at the start of a submission is page upon page of backstory. Naturally, the author needs to know their characters’ past. Especially since that character’s past tends to have a bearing on the story at hand. But, it needs to be woven in. A little bit here, a little bit there. Yes, it’s easier just to lump it all together, but many readers are going to skim over it or will close the book and find something more interesting.

Dialogue tags are another area where authors take the easy way. So many times, I see “he said angrily” or “she stated emphatically”.  How much better it would be to add a beat such as “He slammed his fist into the wall.” Or “She stomped her sneaker-clad foot.”  Yes, doing it this way is a lot of work, but so worth it.
I think a lot of the problem is many authors don’t study their craft. And it is a craft. A woodcarver doesn’t become a master craftsman overnight. He spends years practicing, making mistakes, starting over, and continues learning.

Same thing with musicians. Sure, there is the occasional genius who doesn’t need to practice, but those are few and far between. Most musicians start with the basics, practice and practice, then practice some more.

Writers must study our craft, too. We can’t be content with “okay”. When I read, I want to be transported into the story, to escape from my reality for a while. If I have to slog through ten or fifteen pages of backstory before something happens, I’ll find another book. If grammar issues keep jerking me out of the story, I’ll find one that doesn’t.

As writers, we can’t edit our own work. At least not well. We tend to read what we think should be there, what we meant to write. Many of us don’t know all the nuances a professional editor should. (I’m still trying to figure out commas.) A professional editor is a writer’s best friend and worth every penny they charge.  A professional editor wants your book to be the best it can be and will work hard to make it so.  And, that professional edit will get you an acceptance letter and publishing contract. 

Jean Lauzier


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

KEEPSAKES a poem by Patricia Crandall


Scraps of paper
scribbled upon,
old buttons
purple stones
the most precious,
a wilted dandelion
found in my blue jeans
jacket pocket,
Gifts
from my favorite
four-year old.

Building a Story by Mary Deal

    An example of how to begin a new story when your Muse has taken a vacation. A friend of mine—I’ll call her Judy—had written a...